Why "America's Best High Schools" actually aren't

I have a bone to pick with Newsweek. They just released their list of America's Best High Schools, which narrows this year's (supposedly) most effective public  high schools into a top 1000. And after taking just a quick preliminary look at the top 25, I found a big, glaring problem that made me disregard the list altogether.

What was it? Almost all of the six components that Newsweek based their ranking off of had to do with standardized testing, like SAT and AP scores….and that's about it.  


Read more ¿Qué más?: Use the annual solar eclipse to teach your kids about science!

I might as well make it clear right off the bat: I hate pretty much all standardized testing. To me, it does nothing other than stress out every high school student to the point of breaking and waste everybody's time and money. I strongly believe that standardized tests are not real indicators of intelligence or really, of any genuine learning. After all, you could be a genius and also be a really poor test taker. You could also be a great memorizer who aces every test and not a genius.

That's why seeing this list is so frustrating for me! Yes, these top 5 schools might have high SAT scores and a high percentage of college matriculation, but does that really mean these high school students are learning the most? Probably not. More likely, it means that they are just learning the best way to get a good score on a test, which then allows them to get into college (See? It's a vicious cycle!).

Want to connect with other moms? Like us on Facebook!

It's not these things are necessarily bad, but what else do these schools have to offer? Where on this list did they take into account the other, much more important components that kids can really learn and benefit from (and which can also help kids get into college!)--like educational extracurricular activities, accessibility to special education or even the percentage of diversity in the school?!

I'm not saying that the schools on this list aren't good schools, but I don't think their ranking holds all that much weight when you consider the rationale used to rank them. I'm not a mom yet but I know one thing--I would much rather have my kids in a school with programs that allow them to explore their passions--whether that be sports, art, or music--than one with the highest SAT scores.

What do you think of the list? Tell us in the comments below!

Image via Thinkstock

Topics: child rearing  education  parents and children  teenagers